City of Dallas 2024 Pride In Excellence Awards Reception

City of Dallas 2024 Pride In Excellence Awards Reception

The Mayor and City Councilmembers hosted the 2024 Pride in Excellence Awards Reception Wednesday, June 5 in celebration of pride month.

The awards reception, which included special words from State Representative HD 100 Venton Jones, Council Member Omar Narvaez, and the City’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, recognized LGBTQ+ leaders in Dallas in the fields of business, civic engagement, public service, arts & culture, and philanthropy. Awards were distributed to the following community leaders:

The Adam Medrano Excellence in Leadership Award – Gary Sanchez 

Gary is currently serving as the Director of Public Affairs at Visit Dallas, formerly the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. In this role, Gary is responsible for developing and fostering relationships with community partners, stakeholders, elected officials, chambers of commerce, state, and national associations as they relate to hospitality and the travel/tourism industry. Additionally, he leads the organization’s government affairs, and works with local, state and national associations to protect and advocate for policy directly related to keeping Texas a welcoming destination for all. 

Gary has more than fifteen years of experience in marketing and public relations, both in the private and public sectors. A native of Laredo, Texas, Gary earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Kirk Myers-Hill Pioneer in PRIDE Award- Tamara Stephany 

As the Chief Executive Officer of Abounding Prosperity, Inc., Tamara leads a leading non-profit organization dedicated to addressing health, social, and economic disparities among Black Americans, with a special emphasis on marginalized communities. Her tireless efforts extend to her role as the Executive Director of HOPE Health Center, where she promotes sexual health, HIV/STD prevention, and mental health services in Dallas County. 

With over twenty years of experience spanning various sectors of healthcare, Tamara’s commitment to serving medically underserved populations has been unwavering. 

Through her leadership, she has directed numerous federal and state-funded programs, providing crucial biomedical interventions, HIV testing, mental health services, and support for marginalized communities. 

Tamara’s dedication does not end there. She actively mentors HIV-positive individuals, advocates for Black women’s health, and contributes to various committees and organizations focused on ending the HIV epidemic and promoting child advocacy.

Outstanding Leadership in Business- The Shindig  

Kam and Teri De Leon, the visionary couple behind THE SHINDIG FOOD PARK at 3732 Samuell Blvd, truly have a passion for hospitality and community.   

They are pioneering change in this historically underutilized and underserved section of East Dallas. They are helping to revitalize the area by forging partnerships with other small businesses and providing a prime location for community gatherings. Dedicated to creating a welcoming space for all; Kam, Teri and their two boys transformed their property into a vibrant hub for food, entertainment, and local enterprise, making THE SHINDIG FOOD PARK a cornerstone of Far East Dallas.

Outstanding Leadership in Civic Engagement – Jeff Strater 

Jeff Strater is known for his advocacy for civic engagement and social justice. His activism journey began in Dallas, where he volunteered and served on the board for a wellness, exercise, and yoga program for individuals living with HIV and AIDS. This experience led him to serve in various roles within the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, the Dallas County Democratic Party, and the Young Democrats of Dallas County.

Jeff has been elected six times to the State Democratic Executive Committee, making him one of the longest-serving LGBTQ+ members in the Texas Democratic Party’s history. He’s currently completing his second term leading the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus. In addition to his political roles, Jeff has contributed to urban planning and development in Dallas. He served as the City Council District 2 Appointee to the City Plan Commission for three terms. He held positions on the Permit and License Appeals Board and the Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board.

Jeff’s commitment to community service extends beyond politics. He served on the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’s Young Leaders Society Steering Committee and the Community Impact Grant Review Panel. He was also a two-term member of the National Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign, where he served on the local DFW Steering Committee, acted as a political action chairperson, and chaired the MLK Day of Service. Jeff has also been a member and committee chair for the Rotary Club of Dallas-Uptown.

Jeff currently serves as an Assistant Director of Global Innovation Strategic Programs and Marketing at EY. In this role, he leads various initiatives, manages external relationships, and creates tech-focused content for EY’s emerging technology and innovation efforts. His past marketing campaigns have been recognized with the IABC Gold Quill Award and the ANA Marketing Activation Award.

Jeff holds a master’s degree in college student development and counseling from Kansas State University and started his career at Southern Methodist University in the Division of Student Affairs. He looks forward to continuing his efforts to champion the rights and well-being of all members of his community.

Outstanding Leadership in Arts and Culture- Jesse Tafalla (in memoriam) / Pedro Perez 

JesseTafalla, JR 

Jesse lived to serve his community. After high school, Jesse worked for IBM and, for the past 10 years, DART. He was an active member in many organizations in Dallas, including Rainbow LULAC, Stonewall Democrats, Dallas County Democratic Party, and the MLK Jr. Community Center board. He was a champion of so many different social causes and issues, and he worked tirelessly to try to bridge the gaps and create understanding between communities. He was a very special person. He greeted everyone with the line, ‘‘Hey, don’t I owe you a drink?’’ This was his way of saying that he cared. After that, he would listen to people, and he advocated for communities and people who he felt were genuinely left behind. 

Jesse was an embodiment of service and kindness, and his legacy will be carried on through the countless lives he touched. His love for family, friends, and strangers was unconditional.

Pedro Perez II 

Hailing from Oak Cliff, Pedro Perez II is the Founder and Director of Alegre Ballet Folklórico. His love for Folklórico dance began in elementary school, then nurtured at Ballet Folklórico Hispano de Dallas under the direction of Manuel and Guadalupe “Wally” Godinez. When they closed their doors in 1993, Pedro’s determination led him to establish Alegre Ballet Folklórico, allowing his journey to persist. Pedro has taken numerous workshops and classes with other maestros in Folklórico, Flamenco and other forms of dance. His self-taught expertise in sewing has enabled him to create many of the group’s “vestuarios” or outfits. Pedro’s garment design has garnered recognition and been showcased in exhibitions. Notably, his creative flair has extended to collaborations with TeCo Theatrical Productions, where he has excelled as a costume designer, stage manager, and even an actor. His dedication to preserving and sharing the rich heritage of Ballet Folklórico, coupled with his artistic style, has left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape, enriching the lives of those he touches through his creative endeavors and unwavering passion.

Outstanding Leadership in Health and Human Services- Jalenzski Brown  

Jalenzski Brown seeks to find peace, love, and happiness in every moment of his human experience and help those around him do the same. Jalenzski studies the world around him, looking for new truths to create a greater tomorrow. He currently works with Resource Center, which is North Texas’ primary LGBT and AIDS service organization, as the MPowerment Programs Manager and co-manages the HIV and STD prevention and treatment services. Has worked with the Human Rights Campaign as a 2017 HIV360 Fellow. Jalenzski puts in the time with a variety of organizations in the community, his advocacy voice and policy work organizing has been vital to the community. As an avid lover of humanity, he believes all people deserve respect and the opportunity to reach their greatest potential for good.

Outstanding Leadership in Public Service Award- Judge Katie Sprinkle  

Katie Sprinkle is a Dallas native who graduated from Irving High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at Dallas. She received her law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law. 

After law school, Katie worked in private law practice before joining the Dallas County Public Defender’s Office where she represented indigent clients charged with crimes. In 2012, Katie was appointed First Assistant Public Defender for Burnet County where she helped established the first public defender office in that county. 

In 2013, Katie returned to her hometown of Dallas to open the Law Office of Katie Sprinkle which focuses on criminal defense and LBGTQ issues. In December of 2019, Katie was appointed a Criminal District Court Magistrate for Dallas County where she serves at the Lew Sterrett Jail.

Katie lives in Coppell with her wife Leslie, their three border collies, Molly, Breezy and Patches, and their six toed cat Hemingway.  

Outstanding Leadership in Philanthropy- Keith Pomykal 

Keith is heavily involved in community, charitable and municipal government activities. Keith has a decades long history of being a sponsor of Legacy Cares, Cathedral of Hope and is also an active donor to the HRC Federal Club and Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. 

Keith has served for several years on the Board of Directors of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. He currently serves as Treasurer of its Board of Directors. In 2021, Keith was appointed by the Dallas City Council as the District 14 representative to serve on the Board of the Dallas Public Facility Corporation; he currently serves as the Board’s President.  Keith is the current Democratic 2116 Precinct Chair. 

A fifth generation Texan, Keith holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Texas Christian University. He also earned a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from Texas Christian University. Keith works in the commercial real estate field, lives in the Uptown neighborhood in Dallas and enjoys art, politics, and TCU Football! 

He is always known to photo bomb any picture he is in with the Horned Frog hand sign! Go Frogs!

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